As we get ready to celebrate the close of our Leon Levy Foundation-funded Legacy Digital project, we can take this opportunity to reflect on the work we’ve done and most importantly, the content we’ve transferred from physical storage media dating back to the early 1980s. The contents found on these 1,000 storage media items were, contrary to the image above, a whole lot of something: an assortment of audiovisual documentation, research papers, scientific hard data, meeting minutes, conference proposals and presentations, among other nuggets of insight into WCS’s activities over the past thirty years. Continue reading
For starters, we have been working on capturing the 46 miniDV tapes that were part of the Legacy Digital project’s media selection. You might remember miniDV as the small cassette tape widely used in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Depending on your age, you may have shot your first amateur horror film or skate video on one of these. DV (for Digital Video) is an international standard for consumer digital video created by a consortium of 10 companies, which included Sony, Hitachi, and, Panasonic, amongst others electronics giants. The DV standard uses digital technology to record picture and sound on a high density, metal evaporate tape that is enclosed in a plastic (mini!) cassette. Because miniDV is a tape-based format, it is subject to a similar sort of degradation commonly found on analog videotape, including binder deterioration and mold. In addition, since the tape width is so slim, it is particularly prone to drop-outs, head clog banding, and data loss. To make matters trickier, you’ll need a format-specific camcorder or video tape player/recorder to reformat these tapes.
The advantage of working with highly customizable, open-source tools is the ability to tailor your workflow to the specific needs of your institution or collection. The disadvantage is that you have to customize your workflow, and by that you may find yourself testing configurations in seemingly endless fashion. With so many manually entered steps along the way, a single mismatched configuration can throw pieces of your processing workflow into a tailspin and leave you, hoping, in bouts of desperation, for a one-size-fits-all magical turnkey solution to all digital archival objects for their forever-and-ever-nothing-will-ever-be-lost deep storage.
The new year and holidays brought with it gifts and offerings for our legacy digital project!
Upon returning from our holiday break, we were greeted with the arrival of our TEAC FD-55GFR 5.25″ floppy disk drive along with Device Side Data’s FC5025 USB 5.25″ floppy controller.
We decided on purchasing a 5.25″ floppy disk drive of off Amazon and a FC5025 controller. The FC5025 controller is essentially a circuit board that liaises between your legacy 5.25″ floppy drive and a modern computer running a contemporary operating system. These two components are the essential building blocks to getting data off of 5.25″ floppy through disk imaging because they interface between an older, circa-1981 floppy disk drive and a modern computer. Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities’ (MITH) Vintage Computer site does an excellent job of breaking down the FC5025’s connections and instructions for imaging floppies. The card comes with drivers to enable connections to Windows (98, 7, 8, XP), Mac (OS X), and Linux operating systems.
Caroline Gil here, Digital Project Archivist for the Leon-Levy Foundation-funded Legacy Digital Media Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society. My initial weeks here at the WCS Archives have consisted of inventorying, assessing, and developing an all-encompassing, forensically sound plan for imaging and conserving approximately 1,000 pieces of digital media. For this pilot project, WCS Processing Archivist Leilani Dawson selected pieces of removable media, including optical, magnetic and spinning disk hard drives, which encompass about 393 3.5” floppy disks, 390 pieces of either CDs and DVDs (in all their configurations, i.e. CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD +R etc), 46 Mini-DV video tapes, and half a dozen external hard drives—really cool looking, heavy ones circa the early aughts. Continue reading